Our Schools, Our Kids, Our Future
Silver Lining . . . The last few weeks have been an emotional time period for me. Like many others, I have been grieving the loss of yet another school employee – the death of a second beloved, respected coach within the span of just a few months. On July 10th, Coach Gary Haynes died from a massive heart attack. (In December, we had lost Coach Luz Arredondo.) Now I contemplate what actions would be the most meaningful for our students and staff to help heal from these losses. Can there be a ‘silver lining’ amidst these tragic events?
For those of faith, a ‘silver lining’ is that our coaches are in a better place. Furthermore, much of my own comfort and strength has come from Coach Haynes’ wife, LaShanda. Even though she has suffered the loss of her husband and father of their boys, she continues to verbalize to others how blessed she feels. Her radiant personality, smiles and gratitude help others to be uplifted rather than being overwhelmed by feelings of despair. There is no wallowing in self-pity allowed but rather a positive outlook on what is to come. For the athletic department, she is one of the bright spots within the ‘black cloud’ that seems to be hanging over it.
With LaShanda as an example, I hope that we can come together as a school district to work on the legacy left behind by Coach Haynes. Gary possessed a servant attitude and was a man of faith. Even though he was a former outstanding Palacios athlete who continued to excel in football after his high school career, he never put on airs. He remained a genuine, hard-working, kind individual who Palacios ISD was proud to have return to the school district in yet another athletic capacity. In addition to his own three boys, many children including kids from the youth football league, and junior high and high school athletes have reaped the benefits of his knowledge, skills, patience and generosity. Even though Coach Haynes was an intimidating, ‘tough guy’, he dealt with people and situations calmly and fairly. Gary had some struggles in life and could have very easily chosen a path of self-pity or self-destruction, but he is a true example of how one can pick himself up, have a positive attitude, and get back on the right track. One of his friends remarked at the memorial service that unlike many, he listened more than he talked. What a wonderful trait to have. He was a model father and husband, coach and friend and we can carry on his legacy.
As superintendent, I think about how our school district, but most particularly, the athletic department will be able to rebound from such tragedy. We realize we must forge forward especially for our students. What many do not understand, it is difficult for the coaches and administrators to not feel guilty or disloyal about making plans to fill his coaching and instructional position. While struggling with these emotions, we will put the kids first and remain cognizant about helping our students as they go through the grieving process in a variety of ways. This will be a difficult progression because we, especially the coaches, are still mourning the loss of a colleague and friend and his absence will be even more obvious to students and staff when returning to the field and the gym. The ‘black cloud’ hanging over the athletic department can have a ‘silver lining’ if we come together as a district and community to support our coaches and athletes. Working together and displaying a positive attitude will go far to heal those who are hurting. The time is now to set aside differences and work for the common good of our students. How we react to these events model how our children will learn to face the hard knocks in life.
Coach Haynes - May the legacy of your faith, generosity, love and dedication to PISD, the Sharks, and the community live on forever. Bless you for the time and energy you devoted to many children and to PISD! May you rest in peace!